Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Review 

Read no further if you haven’t read the first book Outlander as there will be spoilers from the first novel, but none from Dragonfly in Amber

I really enjoyed Outlander where I was swept into the world of Claire and Jamie Fraser. Claire travels back through time to the 1700s where she meets a young highlander Jamie Fraser who she falls in love with. These are hefty books but beautifully written with amazing language, wonderfully put together passages of language. 

We return to this world in Dragonfly in Amber but twenty years on, Claire is back in the 1960s with a grown up daughter, returning to Scotland to reveal several truths that will blow the worlds of those near to her wide open. But fear not avid readers, we return to Claire’s memories to find out what happened next in her love saga with Jamie.


This sequel has all the passion of the first book in the series but tinged with sadness, knowing that Claire is back in present day means that the reader is second guessing how this could have happened and what may happen next. Some of the old friends and foes return and in places it’s a case of life and death! It’s another bulky novel but it doesn’t feel that way because of how engrossed you become in the storyline and needing to know what happens next. 


From a historical fiction lover’s viewpoint, I was really enamoured with understanding the rising of ’44 and the historical perspective not only of Bonnie Prince Charlie who I had heard of but never really studied, but also the court of the Parisian King Louis and his followers. It was interesting to see how much more advanced the French were in those days than the English. For example, I’m sure this doesn’t count as a spoiler but there is a very funny scene where Claire’s French friend gets her to wax her legs and armpits and Jamie’s reaction to this is just hilarious. I can’t wait to start Voyager

My Life in Books Tag 

Good evening all! I’m reading another Outlander book at the moment so not really reviewing until I’ve finished that and as it may be a while, I thought I would do another book tag in the meantime! I found this really fun tag at https://dreamlandbookblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/my-life-in-books-tag/ I can’t seem to find the OP, so If it was you, please let me know and I will link your blog! 

So, without further ado, let’s get started! 

Find a Book for Each of Your Initials: 

L Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapowski 


B – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia 


Count Your Age Along Your Bookshelf, What is it? 

Roseblood by AG Howard 


Pick a Book Set in Your City or Country 

Entanglement of Revenge by Chris Brookes. Cool fact, the girl on the cover of this book is me! 


Pick a Book That Represents a Destination You Would Love to Travel Too. 

Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes 


Pick a Book That’s Your Favourite Colour. 

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker 


Which Book do You Have the Fondest Memories of? 

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin. Another cool fact, I read this book years before I met my boyfriend and it was always my favourite. The main character’s name in the Earthsea series is Ged and that is also my boyfriend’s name! 


Which Book Did You Have the Most Difficulty Reading? 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed it, but it was longgggg. 


Which Book in Your TBR will Give you The Biggest Achievement When You’ve Finished It? 

I’m going to cheat a bit here and choose a series instead of a book and that will be the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. They’re great books but they’re heavy volumes and there’s about 9 of them! 


It’s a free for all so if you think this tag sounds fun then go ahead and do it! 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. Review 

I can’t say why this book appealed to me other than to say that the title really intrigued me. Two words that in the Western world we would never associate with one another ‘erotic’ and ‘Punjabi’. I guess that’s because our little knowledge of other cultures sees anyone who is religious as being strict, conservative and definitely not about to write erotic stories! And that’s exactly what Nikki thinks too. Nikki is a young Punjabi woman born and raised in London as an East-West mix. Nikki is a member of feminist groups, she doesn’t believe in the culture of her religion which she sees as binding, controlling and far too conservative for the modern woman. Certainly she isn’t happy when her sister Mindi asks her to post her profile on the marriage board of the temple in Southall. Nikki doesn’t want her sister to have an arranged marriage, something she certainly couldn’t imagine herself. 


But while she is at the temple, Nikki sees an advertisement to teach storytelling to lonely widows in the community and is excited by the prospect. Currently working in a bar after quitting her law degree she has been at a loose end and is unsure where to go or what to do next. But her plans to teach the Widows English reading and writing goes astray when they have other ideas about what stories to tell. 


I really enjoyed this novel. The story was for the most part light, and enjoyable but there was also a dark undertone. The suppression of women in certain cultures. Murder, bullying, hatred, racism and fear. But it was not an unhappy novel despite these undertones. Instead what we see is women brought to life by stories, gaining their freedom, enriching their lives and rising from surpression. I think for people who have grown up in a completely western world, who may possibly have a lack of understanding of other cultures this book provides an interesting and different perspective, to gain understanding that people are people no matter where they come from, the religion they follow and certainly not the colour of their skin. 

The story is funny, honest, bright and leaves you with a sense that justice has been served. 

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory. Review 

This was perhaps my favourite of the Tudor Plantagenet series by Philippa Gregory. It tells the story of the three Grey sisters. Jane who is otherwise known as the 9 day queen and the only one I’d actually heard of, and her sisters Katherine and Mary who were equally persecuted by a bitter and attention seeking brat, I.e Elizabeth I. 

The Last Tudor is not as we would initially think about Elizabeth I herself which is what I expected, but instead about the other remaining Tudor’s Jane, Katherine and Mary. 

The novel is split into three parts with each sister narrating each section in order of age. Jane of course was well known (so hopefully no spoilers) as the young queen forced onto the throne after King Edward’s untimely death and 9 days later is thrown into the tower under arrest as Queen Mary takes her throne back. Jane was of course beheaded for treason. 

The story then takes up with Jane’s younger sister Katherine, a seemingly frivolous girl who loves animals especially her little monkey Mr Nozzle. Always cheerful she marries for love, seeing herself as doing no wrong and yet encountering Elizabeth’s wrath. The same goes for Mary the youngest of the sisters and a little person. She too marries for love only to be imprisoned herself and pushed far from court, but it is she who is bravest and endures the most at the hands of the spiteful ruler who expects attention only for herself.

I really enjoyed this novel because I think that as people we often idolise the Tudors. They were the first monarchs I learnt about in school and of course Mary and Elizabeth were the first queens to rule as a female monarch and not the wife of a king. It was interesting therefore to see another take on it where Elizabeth is shown as actually rather a B*tch! Her obsessive behaviour, her refusal to stand up for anything and to Convict people who she saw as a threat not only to her throne but to her own life as the ‘virgin’ queen. All she really wanted was to be the most beautiful and most admired. 


I really felt passionately like I hated Elizabeth! While I felt unsympathic towards the pious (and slightly annoying) Jane Grey, I felt the true passions, loved, hopes and dreams of Katherine and Mary and felt like writing to William Cecil for their release myself! 

As always with Philippa’s books she educates, mixing fact with a little fiction to make the characters come to life, while reminding us that these events are ones which truly happened in England’s past. A book which truly makes you think. 

The Dark Side of Reviewing 

I have a policy myself to never leave a bad review. This is a fairly new policy which I only implemented about 12 months ago. It was after an indie author asked me to review their book, which was awful and I couldn’t finish it, and I’m ashamed to say that at the time, when I was still very new to reviewing I wanted to give it a good bashing because I felt like I hated it so much. It was poorly put together, the main character was abhorrent and the plot was pathetic. But I was wrong to do what I did. I should never have gone in for a ‘book bashing’ and since then I never have. I may leave a comment or too on a review that says what I was unhappy with but that’s if say we’re talking about a 3*. If I’d rate it lower than 3* then I don’t leave the review in the first place. 


One of the reasons that as a new reviewer I thought it was acceptable to do this, was because I was following another reviewer on Goodreads who I thought was the ideal person to copy. That is until I realised that this person pretty much slanders every book they read. I’ve been reminded of this tonight when I got yet another notification to say someone else had commented on their review of a certain book and I was driven back to read it again. And it got me thinking about the darker side of reviewing and how counterproductive it is for both readers, and authors. 


Being a reviewer is definitely about giving an honest opinion, don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect anyone to hide that they didn’t enjoy a book or lie and pretend they did. But I think sometimes a little understanding and compassion is needed. Many of us review because we love books, we love reading and some of us would like to be writers too. For me, reviewing is as much about promoting reading to others as anything else. I want people who don’t read, or don’t read widely to join in the fun that can come from reading a book. Boasting nearly 3,000 books on your ‘read’ list doesn’t really count if Over 1,000 are on the dnf list and you’re mostly well known for reading books apart. 


Because of this darker side of reviewing, I no longer read reviews before reading books. Which is a shame as most reviews should be there to promote books we love and want to share with others. Not aplace to put your personal opinions about whether you agree with points raised etc. One prime example being many of the reviews of Carve the Mark stating it had connotations of racism. Yet for me, reading the book before the reviews, this never crossed my mind. But had a I read some of the abuse this book got before I read the actual book, I doubt I’d have enjoyed it half as much. 

This is all just me getting my thoughts down on paper but I think a book should stand on its own merit and we should consider keeping it short and sweet when it comes to a book we didn’t enjoy. A rating out of 5, a ‘dnf’ message and perhaps if really necessary a short review with conscientious points. 

If we’re comfortable writing ‘the writing style was excellent.’ Why are we not comfortable saying ‘I didn’t get on with the writing style’ instead of tearing it apart? 

Maybe it’s time to spread a little more love and stop authors fearing reviewers. After all, without them where would we be? 

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. Review 

It all started with The Cousins War or at least it did for, my love of Philippa Gregory came when I cut my teeth on the White Queen, The Red Queen, Lady of the Rivers etc. Then of course the story began to merge with the Tudors. With the release of The Last Tudor (check back for a review on that coming soon) it made sense that I should finally get around to reading The King’s Curse. It’s a pretty hefty novel coming in at over 500 pages, and rightly so as it details the long life of one of the forgotten players in the Tudor/Plantagenet history; Margaret Pole. Beloved tutor of Princess Mary and friend to Queen Katherine of Aragon. 


Margaret saw a lot in her 67 years, a long time to live in those days. This story picks up after the fall of the Plantagenet family from the Royal Household and Margaret’s undying loyalty to her cousin the Queen, married to Henry VII. Margaret was a key player in the Tudor’s story, Prince Arthur lived with her and her husband until his death, she became friends with, and defended Katherine of Aragon and fell constantly in and out of favour with both Henry VII and Henry VIII, fearing constantly that death and danger were stalking her family because of their name, and their royal blood. 


Through Margaret’s eyes, we watch the child Prince Harry, first turn the half destroyed and neglected kingdom around from his father’s rule, to becoming the harsh tyrant who ripped apart the church, the faith of the country and tore down the monasteries, not to mention the divorcing, beheading and casting aside of his wives in his obsession to beget a male heir on one of them. We see the bitter, twisted control of the Boleyn family as they strive for greatness through the vicious Anne, a very different perspective from the one given by Anne and her family in Philippa’s earlier book. 


The novel, despite being long, is well put together and it is clear, as always that Philippa Gregory has considerably researched her subject. Although some of the storyline is not known to be completely factual (this is a work of fiction after all), Philippa does use rumours and presumptions as well as modern scientific and medical research to form her opinions and plots. 

I really enjoyed this, as I do all of the Plantagenet / Tudor hybrid novels, I’m just sad that after The Last Tudor it will all be coming to an end! 

Pick a Word and Pass it On Booktag 

This is, as far as I’m aware, a completely brand new Book Tag created by me! So, I was looking for something on my Goodreads and realised that there were a lot of books with the world King in them. So I decided to start this Book Tag. 

Here are the rules; 

1. You can either take the word the person who tagged you used, or you can pick your own. 

2. You must list all the books on your read list which include that word in either the title or the author. 

3. Tag some friends and pass it on! 

So thanks to my search I have picked the word ‘King’ my tagged friends are welcome to use King too or to pick a word for themselves! So here are all the books I’ve read that have the word King in either the title or the author name. I’ve skipped out titles which include the word king as part of another word I.e breaking or shocking as this gave over 70 results! 


The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory is my currently reading book. 


Insomnia by Stephen King 


Stig of the Dump by Clive King 


Ace by Dick King Smith 


Harry’s Mad by Dick King Smith 


The Hodgeheg by Dick King Smith 


The Fox Busters by Dick King Smith 


The Crowstarver by Dick King Smith 


The Witch of Blackberry Bottom by Dick King Smith 


King of the Middle March by Kevin Crossley Holland 


A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin 


The Green Mile by Stephen King 


The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory 


The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien 


Gerald’s Game by Stephen King 


Pale Kings and Princes by Cassandra Clare 


Babe by Dick King Smith 

I tag; 

Becky at Uptown Orace 

Love Books Group 

Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books 

Everyday issues, political and social issues, everyday feminism.